Oklahoma rallies in the second half to beat UTSA, 87-67

UTSA sophomore guard Keaton Wallace. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UTSA sophomore Keaton Wallace pulls up for a shot Monday night with OU forward Brady Manek defending. Wallace scored a team-high 16 points. — Photo by Joe Alexander

For UTSA basketball fans stressing out over an 0-2 start, there’s really no reason to panic.

Roadrunners coach Steve Henson will find a way — that is, if you believe Oklahoma Sooners coach Lon Kruger.

Trailing by four points six minutes into the second half Monday night, Kruger’s Sooners powered past the Roadrunners, 87-67.

A crowd of 2,494 at he Convocation Center watched as OU manufactured a 39-15 run in the last 14 minutes to turn back a UTSA upset bid.

Combined with a 77-76 loss last week to Division II St. Edward’s, the Roadrunners remain winless leading into a Wednesday night road test at Oklahoma State.

Kruger suggested afterward that Henson, his longtime former assistant, will figure it out.

Remember, Henson is the guy who arrived at UTSA in 2016 to take over a team with five victories the previous season.

UTSA won 14 games in the coach’s first year, followed by 20 last year.

It’s an achievement that has surprised even Kruger, Henson’s coaching mentor since the late 1980s.

“No one is going to work harder at it than Steve and do it with more integrity than Steve,” Kruger said. “That they did it so quickly (in turning around the program) may be a little bit of a surprise.

“No, he’s got all the qualities to be an outstanding coach. He’s been one for two years, and I expect that to continue.

“I like his ball club this year a lot,” said Kruger, whose Sooners improved to 2-0. “You get (Jhivvan) Jackson back healthy and a couple others playing well, I like his team a whole lot.”

Jackson, UTSA’s leading scorer, is due back in December following knee surgery last spring.

Without him, the Roadrunners lack a go-to man when they need a bucket.

As a result, UTSA shot 44 percent against St. Edward’s and followed with 35.6 percent against Oklahoma.

The Roadrunners have also been turnover prone.

They had 19 in the opener and 14 against the Sooners, including several down the stretch.

Henson characterized the team’s mood after the loss as disappointed, “as it should be.”

“Disappointed that we didn’t play the way we needed to,” Henson said. “We fought, competed. Our effort was good. Our focus was good. Preparation was good, and they’re a good team.

“The main topic was turnovers. Some forced. Some unforced. They trapped us a little bit, which is something I thought our team would thrive off of … But (we) didn’t handle that very well.”

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger watched as his team overcame a four-point, second-half deficit to beat UTSA by 20. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Individuals

Oklahoma — Shooting guard Christian James scored a game-high 24 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Point guard Aaron Calixte had 18 points and four assists. Forward Brady Manek contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds.

UTSA — Guard Keaton Wallace had 16 points, four assists, two blocks and a steal. Forward Nick Allen scored 15. Point guard Giovanni De Nicolao had 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven turnovers.

First half

With the offense struggling, the Roadrunners went scoreless for the first eight minutes and fell behind, 7-0. But after trailing by 12, they rallied with a 23-11 run to tie the game. Keaton Wallace hit consecutive threes in the streak, including one from long distance (see video below). OU retaliated with an 11-1 run to the buzzer, lifting OU into a 39-29 lead at the break.

Second half

The Roadrunners enjoyed the best six-minute stretch of the season at the outset, roaring from behind with a 23-9 run to take a 52-48 lead. Nick Allen keyed the streak with three baskets, including a driving layup, a three-pointer and a layup. De Nicolao and Wallace also added threes during the streak. Undaunted, the Sooners countered with solid bench play from Miles Reynolds and Jamal Bienemy. A Bienemy steal and layup, a jumper and another layup put OU up by five. The Sooners would not look back.

Nick Allen. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Nick Allen drives to the hoop against Oklahoma’s Christian James. Allen finished with 15 points.

Nick Allen predicts ‘electric’ atmosphere for OU-UTSA

Nick Allen. St. Edward's beat UTSA 77-76 in men's basketball on Wednesday night, Nov. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Nick Allen

Attendance at UTSA men’s basketball is notoriously modest.

Last year, the Roadrunners won 20 games for the first time in seven years, and the biggest crowd of the season was 2,210 for UTEP.

Historically, it’s a considered a good night when 1,200 or 1,300 fans turn out. Last year, the average was 1,146.

Crowd watchers will be on alert tonight when the Oklahoma Sooners tip off against the Roadrunners at 7 p.m.

Likely, Oklahoma is the most high profile program that UTSA has ever hosted at the Convocation Center, considering that OU plays in one of the major conferences and only three years ago was playing in the Final Four.

“It’s awesome,” UTSA forward Nick Allen said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to show that we can play at that level. There’s not really that much separation between these levels of schools.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Allen can’t wait to see what the atmosphere will be like.

“It’s going to be electric,” he predicted. “It’s going to be big time. It’ll be a lot of fun. People are going to be really into it. We’re really, really into it.

“We’re super-duper excited. I can’t wait.”

Asked what it would be like to play in front of a full house of people every night, Allen’s eyes lit up.

“That would be amazing, he said. “I think that is such an advantage when it comes to any sport. You come into someone else’s home and you feel the energy.

“You feel … not only do you play against five peoople, but I can feel a whole arena of people that do not like me and do not want me to win.”

UTSA played well against OU last year in Norman, trailing by single digits until the last few minutes. The Sooners eventually pulled out a 97-85 victory.

“It was different,” Allen said. “They had Trae Young on the floor, so they played a very different style of basketball. They played very open. The court was very, very spread.

“I think this year, it’s going to be a little bit different because they’re not going to have that. I think they’re going to play with more strength than speed and open-ness.”

OU opened its season with a 91-76 road victory at UT Pan American, while UTSA surprisingly lost at home to a Division II opponent, falling 77-76 to St. Edward’s.

Allen said UTSA has been “locked in, really focused” in practices since the opener.

“We’re not exactly OK with what happened … it put a little taste in our mouth, and we came to work, so, practices have been really good,” he said.

UTSA didn’t shoot the ball very well and, at other times, suffered from too many possessions in which they didn’t get a shot because of turnovers.

“There was some youthfulness to it, definitely,”‘ Allen said. “It’s the first game of the season, so there’s always that …. It was just little things. Like, little wrinkles. Just, attention to detail.”

Kansas holds off top-ranked Texas 3-2 at Big 12 tournament

Jackson Goddard pitched into the seventh inning Wednesday to lead eighth-seeded Kansas past No. 1 Texas 3-2 on opening day at the Big 12 baseball tournament at Oklahoma City. Kansas piching held the regular-season champion Longhorns to only four hits.

Records

Kansas 27-28
Texas 37-20

Baylor blanks Oklahoma

Earlier in the day, Cody Bradford struck out 11 batters in 7 and 2/3 innings as fifth-seeded Baylor shut out No. 4 Oklahoma, 4-0. It was Baylor’s first victory at the Big 12 tournament under third-year coach Steve Rodriguez. Baylor hadn’t won at the tournament since 2015.

Records

Baylor 33-29
Oklahhoma 34-20

Big 12 baseball tournament

Wednesday’s scores

Kansas 3, Texas 2
Baylor 4, Oklahoma 0
Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia
Texas Tech vs. TCU

Thursday’s games

Texas vs. Oklahoma, 9 a.m.
TBA, 12:30 p.m.
Kansas vs. Baylor, 4 p.m.
TBA, 7:30 p.m.

Rhode Island ends Oklahoma’s season, 83-78, in overtime

Trae Young’s momentous freshman year is over.

Now we wait to see if his college career has expired, as well.

Trailing by four points at halftime, seventh-seeded Rhode Island rallied Thursday to oust Young and the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners 83-78 in overtime in a round-of-64 NCAA Tournament game.

Young, with dazzling shot-making and play-making ability, soared into consideration for national Player of the Year honors in November, December and January.

He erupted for a season-high 48 points on Jan. 28 at Oklahoma State.

But the narrative of his memorable season, which included four 40-point outbursts, did not have a happy ending.

Young was stymied in his ultimate goal of leading the Sooners on a deep run in the tournament.

He played a steady game against Rhode Island, finishing with 28 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

But Young also had six turnovers, and he missed his first three field goal attempts in overtime.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews and Fatts Russell made the plays that counted.

Matthews, in particular, was brilliant down the stretch with two three-pointers in the extra period.

As for OU’s future, a lot depends on Young’s decision concerning the NBA draft.

He led the nation in scoring and assists and surely would make plenty of NBA teams better next year.

Most scouts seem to think he is still a first-round pick, as Sports Illustrated has reported, and first-round status still guarantees millions of dollars.

But you wonder after the Sooners’ late-season swoon whether he would consider returning to college, especially under a player’s coach like Lon Kruger.

We’ll see.

Stats leaders

Oklahoma: Trae Young, 28 points on 9 of 18 shooting, 3 of 9 from three. Also, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 6 turnovers.

Rhode Island: E.C. Matthews, 16 points, 5 rebounds.

Records

Rhode Island, 26-7. Oklahoma, 18-14.

Coming up

Rhode Island advances in the Midwest Region to face either No. 2 Duke or 15th-seeded Iona.

Graham leads No. 8 Kansas past slumping Oklahoma, 104-74

Eighth-ranked Kansas played at a championship level Monday night, following the lead of senior point guard Devonte’ Graham to a 104-74 victory over the slumping Oklahoma Sooners.

Shooting for a 14th straight Big 12 regular-season title, Kansas won its third in a row to move into first place by a half game over Texas Tech.

Graham produced 23 points and seven assists, while guiding an offense that hit the 100-point barrier for the first time in conference play and the fourth time overall this season.

OU freshman sensation Trae Young, the nation’s leader in scoring (29.0) and assists (9.2), struggled again with his shot.

Though the 6-foot-2 point guard passed for nine assists, Young made only 3 of 13 from the field to score a season-low 11 — 18 below his average.

Young simply doesn’t appear to have the same explosive burst that he did in November and December.

He has hit only 14 of 50 shots from the floor in his last three games.

Records

Kansas 22-6, 11-4
Oklahoma 16-11, 6-9

Big picture

Kansas — The up and down Jayhawks are getting hot at the right time. They hit 60.9 percent from the field and 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from three.

Oklahoma — Once regarded as a premier team nationally, the Sooners have dropped nine of their last 11. They need to start winning just to make the 68-team NCAA tournament field.

Quotable

“We’re a better basketball team than we were three weeks ago. I do believe that,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in comments posted on KU social media.

Graham, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., said it felt great to see the Jayhawks play so well. “We haven’t won like this in a while,” he said.

Coming up

Kansas at Texas Tech, Saturday
Kansas State at Oklahoma, Saturday

Evans scores 26 as No. 7 Texas Tech beats Oklahoma, 88-78

Texas Tech’s best season in 13 years just got a little better.

Guard Keenan Evans scored 26 points Tuesday night as the seventh-ranked Red Raiders pulled away late to down No. 23 Oklahoma, 88-78, in a Big 12 game at Lubbock.

Alone in first place in the conference, the Red Raiders (22-4, 10-3) held OU freshman Trae Young to 19 points in running their winning streak to seven.

Texas Tech hasn’t won 22 games in a season since 2004-05, when the Bob Knight-coached Red Raiders finished 22-11.

Young entered the ESPN national-television game leading the nation in scoring (29.5) and assists (9.4).

In a strategy that proved effective, Tech employed traps with taller perimeter players in holding Young to 4 of 16 shooting.

Guarded alternately by Jarrett Culver, Zhaire Smith and Niem Stevenson, all of them with at least a three-inch height advantage, the Red Raiders hounded the 6-2 Young into an 0-for-9 night from 3-point range.

It was a eventful homecoming for Young, a Lubbock native whose father played for the Red Raiders.

Not only was the Tech defense all over him, so were the fans who booed and chanted.

“I get that everywhere I go,” Young told newsok.com. “Just because I’m back here in Lubbock, I didn’t think I was going to get a welcome-home type of feel.

“I wasn’t expecting anything different tonight.”

In the beginning, Oklahoma jumped out to an early five-point lead and hung on to lead by one at the half.

The Sooners (16-9, 6-7) continued to play well as a team and mustered a 64-63 lead with 8:51 remaining.

But the Red Raiders were too tough down the stretch.

After Evans drove for a dunk to give Tech an 81-74 lead, OU never got any closer.

Young even dribbled off his foot for a turnover on one possession.

Evans, a senior from Richardson, hit 9 of 15 shots from the field. He also tied a season high with 4 three-point buckets on 7 attempts.

Three other Texas Tech players reached double figures in scoring, including center Norense Odiase with 14. Smith scored 13 and Stevenson had 12 off the bench.

“We’re defending. We’re locking people down,” Odiase told lubbockonline.com. “We’re really harping on defense. … We’re tightening it up together in these last six to seven games. We’ve been playing on that end.”

West Virginia escapes with 75-73 victory at Oklahoma

The West Virginia Mountaineers stayed in the thick of the Big 12 title chase Monday night with a 75-73 victory at Oklahoma.

With the win, 19th-ranked West Virginia improved to 7-4 in conference and remained one game in the loss column behind Kansas and Texas Tech, both at 7-3.

No. 17 Oklahoma failed to hit a potential game-tying shot under the basket in the final seconds and lost its first game at home this season, falling to 6-5 in Big 12 play.

Lamont West led West Virginia with 17 points and center Sagaba Konate dominated down low, producing 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Forward Esa Ahmad also scored 14 for the Mountaineers, including seven points in the final 4:51.

National scoring leader Trae Young of Oklahoma produced a team-high 32 points on 10 of 20 shooting from the field.

Young also hit four three-point shots in the face of a physical West Virginia defense.

But the Mountaineers limited Young, also the national leader in assists, to only one.

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter finished with 10 points, eight assists and six steals.

It was the fifth time this season that Carter has had at least five assists and five steals in the same game.

Records

West Virginia (18-6, 7-4)
Oklahoma (16-7, 6-5)


West Virginia’s Jevon Carter and OU’s Rashard Odomes face off in the final minutes of a Big 12 game in Norman, Okla.

Trae Young scores 44 as OU holds off Baylor, 98-96

Freshman sensation Trae Young produced 44 points and nine assists Tuesday night as Oklahoma edged Baylor, 98-96.

Ryan Aber of newsok.com has the story here.

Young has now produced a Big 12 record of four games of 40 points in a season. Here’s a breakdown:

Nov. 26, 2017
Final score: Oklahoma 90, Oregon 80
Where: Portland, Oregon
Points: 43
Assists: 7
Minutes played: 37
Field goals: 11-22
Three pointers: 4-11
Free throws: 17-18
Notable: Young scored the most points for a Sooner since Buddy Hield had 46 in then No. 1 Oklahoma’s 109-106 loss to No. 2 Kansas in triple overtime on Jan. 4, 2016, according to the Associated Press.
Quotable: “I found my teammates and found some for myself,” Young said. “My teammates did a great job of knocking down shots and that opened up the floor for me.”

Dec. 30, 2017
Final score: Oklahoma 102, TCU 97 in overtime
Where: Norman, Oklahoma
Points: 43
Assists: 7
Minutes played: 40
Field goals: 15-27
Three pointers: 10-18
Free throws: 3-7
Notable: Young scored 29 after halftime. It was Young’s second dominating performance against TCU this season. He had 39 in Fort Worth on Dec. 30.
Quotable: “Sometimes you wonder, is he even human?” asked Oklahoma guard Christian James.

Jan. 20, 2018
Final score: Oklahoma State 83, Oklahoma 81 in overtime
Where: Stillwater, Oklahoma
Points: 48
Assists: 8
Minutes played: 43
Field goals: 14-39
Three pointers: 8-20
Free throws: 12-12
Notable: Young missed a long three at the overtime buzzer. None of Young’s teammates scored more than eight points.
Quotable: “We’ve got to work harder on getting more motion away from the ball and get the ball moving a little bit,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said.

Jan 30, 2018
Final score: Oklahoma 98, Baylor 96
Where: Norman, Oklahoma
Points: 44
Assists: 9
Minutes played: 38
Field goals: 11-20
Three pointers: 6-11
Free throws: 16-19
Notable: The next stop for Young and the Sooners is Austin. OU plays at Texas on Saturday.
Quotable: “Trae Young is a special player,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “His 3-point shot is obviously elite. What we tried to do was not get him on the free-throw line. As you can see, we weren’t effective there.”

Clutch shooting lifts OU past Kansas, 85-80

Christian James and Brady Manek knocked down clutch three pointers in the final 69 seconds Tuesday night as 12th-ranked Oklahoma rallied for an 85-80 victory in Big 12 men’s basketball over No. 5 Kansas.

National player of the year candidate Trae Young, a freshman, assisted on both baskets.

Playing at home before an energized crowd, Oklahoma (15-4, 5-3) led for much of the first half and held a two-point edge at halftime.

But first-place Kansas (16-4, 6-2) started to click after intermission, surging into a 10-point advantage with nine minutes left.

When guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk buried a three pointer with 9:26 remaining, the Jayhawks had a 72-62 lead.

At the end, Kansas seemed to have control when Lagerald Vick followed a Devonte’ Graham miss.

The basket silenced the crowd and put the Jayhawks up 80-77 with 2:33 left.

From there, the Sooners went on an 8-0 run to the final buzzer.

Young hit a couple of free throws and then created plays for James and Manek.

On the first play, Young drove baseline and, from under the goal, he passed outside to James on the wing.

James, who was 0-for-6 from three-point range in his last game, swished the shot with 1:09 remaining to give the Sooners an 82-80 lead.

After Mykhailiuk missed a three on the other end for Kansas, Young got the ball in his hands again, and he punished the visitors.

Dribbling at the top of the three-point circle, Young drove to his right. With his head down, he hooked a no-look pass to Manek on the right wing.

Manek swished it with 27 seconds left for the final points.

Young, who ranks No.1 in the nation in scoring and assists, finished with 26 points and nine assists. James scored 15 points and Manek had 14.

Mykhailiuk scored 24 to lead the Jayhawks, while Malik Newman added 20.

Graham, Kansas’ leading scorer at 18 points per game, had a rough night shooting the ball, hitting only 4 of 19 from the field.

He finished with 11 points and nine assists.

Around the Big 12

Down by 15 points in the second half, 14th-ranked Texas Tech came from behind to stun Oklahoma State, 75-70, in Lubbock…

The conference race has tightened considerably, with Kansas (6-2) leading by a game over Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas State (all 5-3). Texas (4-4) is two games back …

Kansas leads Big 12 basketball race by two games

The first-place Kansas Jayhawks might be hard to catch in the Big 12 basketball race if they can win at Oklahoma Tuesday night.

Kansas will take a two-game lead in the loss column on four different ball clubs leading into a game against OU at the Lloyd Noble Center.

West Virginia trailed Kansas by a game until Monday night, when it got beat 82-73 at TCU.

Now, Kansas (16-3, 6-1) leads by a game and a half and two in the loss column over both West Virginia (16-4, 5-3) and surging Kansas State.

Kansas State (15-5, 5-3) won on the road Monday night, knocking off Baylor, 90-83.

OU (14-4, 4-3) and Texas Tech (15-4, 4-3) both are two full games back with a little more than a third of the conference schedule in the books.

In Fort Worth, TCU started its day getting dropped from the AP Top 25 rankings.

But it finished with authority, recording a victory at home over a Top 10 team for the first time in nearly five years.

Guard Alex Robinson produced 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead the Frogs, who are playing without injured standout Jaylen Fisher.

Fisher was lost for the season last week after right knee surgery.

West Virginia came into Fort Worth on a roll, having blown out Texas 86-51 at home on Saturday, only to follow it up with a 33 percent shooting performance at TCU.

Jevon Carter had 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Mountaineers.